My neighborhood in Astoria, which is the little pocket that sits at the border of Woodside and Sunnyside along Northern Boulevard, has recently enjoyed a staccato rhythm somewhat different than the usual ones. Under normal circumstance, it’s car stereos and home improvement contractors supplying the beat, while lately it’s been an MTA construction project found at the intersection of Northern, 34th Avenue, and 46th Street.
Recently, one decided to follow the clanging and whirring to see what’s going on – here’s what I found… (more…)
This Friday, Hong Kong’s prolific movie director Patrick Lung Kong will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from another Asian director, Tsui Hark, at the Museum of the Moving Image. A true pioneer of Cantonese cinema, Kong wrote 14 films that he directed between 1966 and 1979 and starred in 60 films between 1958 and 2002. The museum will then screen The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (below), followed by a conversation with Kong and Hark, a native of Vietnam who remade this film. The event will kick off Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Cinema of Patrick Lung Kong, a nine-film series featuring rare titles imported from Hong Kong from August 15th through August 24th.
Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.
Ah, the great outdoors. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And various humans are playing ping pong on a table made from trashed materials. That’ll be the scene the next two Sundays during Astoria Park Shore Fest 2014. The NYC Department of Transportation will turn Shore Boulevard into a “temporary pedestrian street” so autos give way to live music, family activities, vendors, and random acts of fun. On August 10th, the theme will be “Taste of Astoria,” and local vendors will host an afternoon picnic. The festival continues on August 17th with “Make Shore BoulevART” as the theme. This means booths with opportunities to paint, play music, dance, and be creative. Both Sundays will feature Ping Pong in the Park. Hosted by environmental activist Lynne Serpe, racket sport enthusiasts will be able to match skills on tables created by Build it Green, a salvage warehouse on 26th Avenue.
Is it possible to create twins via cloning? Because that’s the only way to enjoy all the top-notch live music in Queens this Thursday, when the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the country’s best Beatles tribute band come to town.
At 7 pm, the Met — in association with SummerStage and City Parks Foundation — will host a concert in Socrates Sculpture Park featuring Mary-Jane Lee (soprano), Ginger Costa-Jackson (mezzo-soprano), and Yunpeng Wang (baritone), accompanied by Dan Saunders (pianist). They will perform arias and duets from a variety of operas. At 7:30 pm, Strawberry Fields (above), a group that former President Bill Clinton praises in his book Giving, will take its audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the Fab Four’s biggest hits as part of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s 2014 Waterfront Concert Series. Then at 8 pm, the New York Philharmonic, which is the county’s oldest symphony orchestra, will venture away from Lincoln Center to give a free concert with Strauss, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Alan Gilbert as the conductor in Cunningham Park.
Opera details: Metropolitan Opera Recital, Socrates Sculpture Park (below), 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, July 10th, 7 pm, free.
Beatles details: Strawberry Fields, Astoria Park Great Lawn, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool, Astoria, July 10th, 7:30 pm, free.
I say this every time that the Mister rings his bells: Mrs. Softee is lonely during the torrid nights of a New York summer, wondering for whom her man plays his song. Mister Softee is no damn good, and she’s sure of it.
Pictured above is a proper “Mister Softee” truck, found on its rounds in Astoria one night, doing exactly what he told the Mrs. that he’d be up to. The mister’s wearing his proper “trade dress” and nothing is as it shouldn’t be (except that I was walking the dog and didn’t have a penny on me, so I couldn’t buy a vanilla cone with sprinkles. Frankly, the dog was more upset than me about this, but there you go.)
Of late, however, something strange has been going on in Queens – someone has been impersonating the Mister.
One thing that the good people of Queens cannot be accused of is a dearth of patriotic flag displays.
Old Glory is found waving everywhere hereabouts, and is particularly conspicuous in the lead up to the Fourth of July holiday. Independence Day in my neighborhood, Astoria, means that in between the flags, there will be a pall of BBQ smoke hanging about in the air and every neighborhood dog will be hiding in the bathtub when the sun goes down and the neighbors begin to detonate their fireworks.
The Deal: By this point, most Astoria residents have probably visited Rèst-âü-Ránt. It has been an Astoria institution for the last seven years. The cleverly named establishment could be called a wine bar, a craft beer hall or a small plates restaurant and each description would be accurate. The menus focus on carefully curated wines and beers and dishes of easily sharable nibbles in equal measure, creating a friendly, social atmosphere that has keep locals returning and first-timers venturing out for the busy schedule of happy hours, comedy shows and live music.
Owner Tina Stipanovic began in the restaurant industry (or in this case, it’s the Rèst-âü-Ránt industry) to support her artistic pursuits. Eventually she combined her two passions into the successful endeavor. Stipanovic built much of the interior woodwork by hand – including the convivial U-shaped bar – and manages the menu with as much care. She ensures that everything is made in house and, as often as possible, ingredients are sourced locally.
I’ve been missing 5Pointz something fierce lately, so after meeting some friends from the City for lunch nearby Astoria Park recently, we paid a visit to the Welling Court Mural Project. There is a LOT of street art going on here, and there has been since 2009, when the Ad Hoc Art group began the project.
The Welling Court Mural Project began in 2009 when Ad Hoc Art was invited by the community of Welling Court to slay some aesthetic blights in their neighborhood. The first project debuted in May 2010 with over 44 murals, fitting for the diverse and lively inhabitants. Each year since, spectacular crews of legendary and groundbreaking artists have come together to transform the neighborhood into a creative celebration and public art experience.
Many, many more images and lots of commentary after the jump. (more…)
You’ll want to come back… and back… and back. The Central Astoria LDC’s Astoria Park Festival 2014 is ready to rock Western Queens for four days with copious amounts of family fun, including roughly 20 rides, live entertainment, food vendors, games and some of the city’s most spectacular sunsets. Revelers should expect the Dream Catcher, which spins patrons around as they are moved from left to right; Orient Express, a small roller coaster; a Ferris Wheel; and various fun houses. Foodies will be able to sample everything from corn dogs to freshly squeezed lemonade to deep-fried Oreos.
Details: Astoria Park Festival 2014, parking lot, Thursday, June 26th, 4 pm to 10 pm; Friday, June 27th, 4 pm to 11 pm; Saturday, June 28th, noon to 11 pm; Sunday, June 29th, noon to 10 pm, free with fees for attractions and food.